Harare City Council has no town clerk and is in a quandary after its sole substantive department head, health services director Dr Prosper Chonzi, turned down an offer to become acting town clerk because the health department is heavily committed to fighting Covid-19 and because he does not feel himself qualified outside his public health profession to solve city problems.
Dr Chonzi, who was supposed to start work on Monday, was appointed as acting town clerk, taking over from Engineer Zvenyika Chawatama, who is on the run on allegations that he appointed himself acting town clerk after Engineer Hosiah Chisango was arrested late last year.
But Dr Chonzi disagrees that he should assume the top post and communicated his decision to the acting mayor Councillor Stewart Mutizwa, who had appointed him to the post, in a letter on Monday.
“Your worship it is my humble submission that it is not prudent to change guard at the health department at this critical point in response to this unprecedented outbreak that has shocked the city to its core,” read the letter.
“The city currently faces a myriad of challenges that include town planning and land management issues, water and sewer reticulation deficits, waste management, roads infrastructure, human resources and outstanding disciplinary cases, finance and cash flow challenges. All these challenges require a full time person focused on these matters and with the relevant competencies in the aforementioned areas.”
Dr Chonzi said as a medical doctor and a public health specialist for almost 30 years he had become a national resource in terms of public health, especially to other local authorities.
“I have also desired that my career trajectory follows my competencies. As a professional, I would be very uncomfortable if I am immersed into a situation where my competencies cannot navigate,” he said.
“I believe that the city has options, very good options, both internally and externally, to select a competent person to lead the city during this period.”
Dr Chonzi said while he fully appreciates the confidence Clr Mutizwa had reposed in him, but the task was too heavy for him to bear.
“I am under no illusion on the magnitude of the challenges the city is facing and at the same time I am fully cognisant of the responsibilities bestowed on me by council, the residents of Harare and by the Secretary of Health to lead the Covid-19 pandemic response,” he said
“After taking all these into account and careful consideration I have come to the conclusion that I am unable to take up the post at this point in time.”
The acting mayor was not available for comment yesterday.
Those in acting capacities include finance director Stanely Ndemera and chamber secretary Mr Charles Kandemiri.